Gray Hair: 9 Fascinating Things You Didn’t Know

Gray Hair

Graying hair… It happens to us all eventually. Some women wear their silver manes with pride, while others dread the arrival of new grays and do everything they can to conceal them.

There’s good news, though, at least for those who prefer to hide their grays: scientists are working on figuring out how to prevent graying hair. The question is, what do they know that you don’t?

Here are nine things you may not know about your graying hair…

Hair Grows Gray; It Doesn’t Go Gray

Grows Gray

As part of the hair growth process in humans, hairs grow out (generally takes between one and three years), and then they naturally shed – and then new hairs grow in their place.

With aging, the new hairs that grow are more likely to be gray or white in color. This is because pigment-forming cells wear out after years of constant hair regeneration.

Hair Growth and Hair Color Are Two Separate Issues

Hair Growth
Going gray. A young woman shows her gray hair roots.

There are different cells in the body that affect hair. Hair follicle stem cells produce it, while pigment cells (melanocytes) are responsible for pigment. Normally, cells work in tandem, but they do wear out.

Is there a medication or something that one can apply to slow the graying process effectively? Researchers are trying to work this out. Hopefully, they will come up with a positive answer soon.

Colored Hair Is Usually Coarser Than Gray

Colored Hair

If you thought that gray hair is more coarse than colored hair, then you’d be wrong. It’s actually finer. It often just appears drier because the scalp produces less oil as we age.

Another reason why gray hair may seem rougher is that a lot of women pull out their grays. This constant hair-pulling can distort hair follicles and make hair look crinkled.

Aging Is the Main Reason Hair Turns Gray


Alright, so no big secret here, but did you know that half of all women and men are about fifty percent gray by the time they turn fifty? Dermatologists refer to this as the 50/50/50 rule.

And it’s not just your hair color that changes as your age advances, according to experts; its texture changes, too. That applies to people of all colors, races, and ethnicities.

Ethnicity Matters

Bad news if you’re a Caucasian woman: People of European ancestry tend to gray prematurely, particularly redheads. Asian women gray nearly as fast and then African-American women.

Generally, Caucasians start graying in their mid-thirties, Asians in their late thirties, and African Americans in their forties. Experts aren’t sure why Caucasians go gray before other ethnicities.

Stress May Contribute to Graying


While there’s no direct link proving that premature graying is caused by stress, many researchers believe that there is a connection, as stress is implicated in many issues involving skin and hair.

A 2011 study by Robert Lefkowitz found that the fight or flight response (our body’s natural response to acute stress) can damage DNA long-term and cause premature aging and graying hair.

Your Lifestyle Can Make You Gray Faster


It’s true: People with unhealthy lifestyles tend to gray faster, especially those who smoke. Studies show that there’s a strong relationship between smoking and premature hair graying.

Diet is another lifestyle aspect that can stress hair and skin in a big way. Diets low in foods that contain vitamin B12, in particular, have a reputation for causing loss of hair pigment.

Hair Bleaches Itself Over Time

Hair Bleaching

When you want to go blonde or touch up your roots, hydrogen peroxide will get the job done quickly and easily, as many of us know, but interestingly that’s also how women and men go gray.

Hair follicles contain small amounts of hydrogen peroxide. This hydrogen peroxide builds up with age, inhibiting the production of the color pigment melanin. The result is graying hair.

Gray Hair Is Often Color Resistant

Color Resistant

Graying hair tends to be more stubborn about taking color, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t take should you decide to color your hair. Many women find that their gray is resistant to hair color.

If the above applies to you, then you may want to drop down a color level. You can also opt for a darker color to use on your roots in order to provide additional coverage.